The Maryland men’s basketball team’s Saturday afternoon game against Gardner-Webb University wouldn’t likely gain much attention under normal circumstances.
After all, the Bulldogs are 3-7 with six double-digit losses this year, which hardly qualifies them as a threatening Division II school.
But the Terps will be lacking freshman Bruno Fernando for the first time all season, and fans will get a chance to see how the team looks without one of its biggest contributors.
Fernando limped off the court Thursday night after spraining his right ankle against Ohio University. Maryland soundly won the game, 87-62, but Fernando will likely miss some time, which includes the game against Gardner-Webb.
“Anytime someone goes down, I think everyone kind of holds their breath because you don’t know how serious it’s going to be,” sophomore guard Kevin Huerter said after the game.
Regardless of who Maryland’s opponent, Fernando’s absence will be felt, particularly in the area of rebounding. Maryland has outrebounded opposing teams 10 teams this season, averaging 40 rebounds per game.
The 6-foot-10 forwards averages nearly six rebounds, and he has been a presence on defense with 23 blocks.
Maryland won’t be lacking in size, though, as it still has senior Michal Cekovsky, who had another solid performance against Ohio. Cekovsky made all six of his shots against the Bobcats, and nearly had a double-double with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Cekovsky will likely get more minutes with Fernando out, and that should begin against Gardner-Webb. The increased minutes could prove valuable for the 7-foot-1 Slovakian, as the Terps will resume Big Ten play in three weeks. A spike in minutes should prepare Cekovsky for the better competition.
It will also give other frontcourt players a chance to see more time on the court. Graduate transfer Sean Obi has played a limited roll with the team so far this season, but Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon is happy with he’s seeing from the center.
“Sean did great with his minutes tonight [with six points, three rebounds],” Turgeon said. “Sean will get some minutes.”
In the limited minutes Obi has seen, he has proven to be tough and physical, and those qualities will likely be relied upon more in the near future.
Maryland will probably not be threatened by Gardner-Webb, but the game will give Maryland a chance to try out a few different rotations. These next five home games before Big Ten play begins again against Penn State will be pivotal for this experimentation. The more comfortable these rotations are against less opponents, the better they will look against better competition.
Maryland’s game against Gardner-Webb will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
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